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Orange City Public Library board

The Orange City Public Library Board of Trustees meets Tuesday afternoon. Approximately 15 community members attended the meeting, which addressed possible changes to the library's collection development policy and system of organizing its children's books. 

ORANGE CITY, Iowa  |  Amid a call from some community members to segregate library materials containing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning -- or LBGTQ -- themes, the Orange City Public Library's Board of Trustees plans to experiment with a new way of classifying books.

The new method, which is used in some other Iowa libraries, would group books by subjects and subcategories rather than solely in alphabetical order by author's name.

Also, in response to any concern from the community over individual librarians pushing an agenda, the library may have more staff members review the acquisition of new materials.

The proposed changes, discussed Tuesday during the board's monthly meeting, come a month after community members presented a petition with more than 340 signatures to specially label and separate books with LGBTQ themes from the library's main collection and to halt any new acquisitions of such materials without public input.

The board also on Tuesday voted unanimously to keep a pair of challenged children's books -- one accused by a community member of trying to "indoctrinate" youth into "transgender normalization" -- in the library's collection despite statements of concern brought forward by community members. 

The proposed grouping system would follow the Book Industry Standards and Communications, or BISAC, subject headings outlined by the Book Industry Study Group

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Orange City Public Library

Several community members in Orange City are taking issue with materials dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning -- or LGBTQ -- issues that are included in the main collection of the public library.

Board president Jared Weber said Tuesday the changes could start with a trial run on a few subjects over the summer, then expand if patrons liked the new system. 

"If the consumer tells us -- meaning our patrons tell us -- hey, we're happy, we really love this new organization, we would do it children-wide," Weber said. "And then if it's really popular there, (we'd) do it library-wide."

Library director Amanda Vazquez said it would likely take about a year to re-label and categorize all of the children's book items and a second year or longer for the adult section.  

The Board of Trustees had directed its policy committee to review the collection development policy after nearly 20 people spoke for and against the segregation of approximately 168 library materials dealing with LGBTQ themes at last month's meeting. Some accused by some in the largely conservative community of pushing an LGBTQ agenda on patrons, especially children.

Weber said after the committee's review, the library's collection development policy was generally in line with others across the state of Iowa.

To provide an additional check on library acquisitions, the board plans to vote next month on a revised policy that could require more library staff to review new books entering the library's collection. 

In related action, library board unanimously voted down a book challenge brought forward by Orange City resident Kurt Korver against the children's book "Morris Mickelwhite and the Tangerine Dress" by Christine Baldacchino, which features a boy whose classmates don’t understand why he enjoys wearing a dress. 

Reading from a prepared statement, Korver said the book advances a transgender agenda. He said Orange City residents are not "racists, bigots or homophobes" but rather "generous, caring people who generally pity those who have gender dysphoria."

Korver added that the library board's hiring and retention of an "activist library director" and delay of requests to separate the materials "aimed at indoctrinating our youth" made them a party to the "sexual revolution being foisted upon unwilling Orange City residents." 

Board member Mabel Mantel responded that she believed banning such a book was counterproductive and that the responsibility to monitor children's reading falls on the parents. 

"You have to set the parameters and you have to make the decisions and you have to enforce them," she said. "Not us. Not the library board that meets one hour a month."

The board also voted to keep a second challenged book, "Wonder Woman: A Hero to All" by Liz Marsham, after a statement of concern was brought forward due to concerns with how Wonder Woman was visually depicted in the book. 

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City hall reporter

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